HOW MUCH DOES A WEDDING COST?

Together, we decided that God has called us to use our resources for far more than a celebration that highlights the two of us. We simply want to be wise stewards of what has been entrusted to us, and more than that, we want to glorify God in our wedding and in our marriage.

As we mentioned before, the average wedding dress costs $1,134. The average photographer costs $2,444. The average wedding costs $28,385. But in addition to this radical commitment and our thrifty nature, we've managed to sell over $744 (and counting) of our stuff to put towards wedding expenses.

Below is a comprehensive list of wedding expenses to-date. Click on individual items to see a brief explanation.

Last updated: April 11th, 2011


ceremony venue FREE (donated)
reception venue FREE (donated)
tablecloths FREE (donated)
food FREE (donated)
entertainment FREE (donated)
wedding cake FREE (donated)
wedding dress $164
groom's attire $24
lighting $136
invitations $11
this very website $12
wedding soundtracks $13
flowers $100
tent/tables/chairs $400
(discount: ≈ 80%)
photographer $500
(discount: ≈ 75%)
  TOTAL:  $1360

Ceremony & Reception Venue

As we mentioned on the Location/Directions page, both the ceremony and the reception will take place at Phillip’s parents’ house. Thankfully, they aren’t charging us a dime to set up a huge tent, lay out a bunch of chairs and invite 200 of our closest friends over. Talk about generosity!


Tablecloths

Believe it or not, my dental hygienist donated the tablecloths. I went in for my regular 6 month cleaning, and I walked away with more tablecloths than I knew what to do with. Tammy, my hygienist, had recently gotten married, and she explained that it was cheaper for her to buy tablecloths as opposed to renting them. That being said, she had huge plastic bags full of tablecloths sitting in her basement at home. After briefly explaining to her the concept behind our wedding, she gladly offered up her tablecloths of varying shapes and sizes. Free. Fifty.


Wedding Website

I’m sure everyone’s super curious as to how we managed to snag such an impeccable website for the low, low price of $12. Well ladies and gentlemen, here’s how you do it... marry a web designer. That’s right; Phillip designed our entire website. And Joenathan - one of the best men - helped program several crucial parts. So between Phillip & Joenathan’s creative computer skills and my narratives, we got this bad boy up in no time. The $12 covers our url: "theradicalwedding.com". Use what you got!


Lighting

The one thing I knew I wanted from the very beginning was light... lots and lots of light. I decided to forgo the expensive masses of flowers and decorate with every different kind of light I could think of. The strand lights were purchased at Wal-Mart; we headed there 2 days after Christmas to buy nearly their entire stock of white LED’s... at half price ($3.50 a piece). Timing is everything!

The Chinese lanterns were purchased online from the Paper Lantern Store (how appropriate). After doing some serious price hunting, these were the cheapest lanterns I could find. Plus, this site offered tons of size varieties, and I qualified for free shipping to boot! The total came to $101- not bad for 36 lanterns The only catch was trying to figure out a way to light the things. Thanks to my impeccable Google skills, I was able to find instructions on how to make LED "throwies", which consist of an LED bulb, a watch battery, and some tape. We were then able to purchase LED bulbs and watch batteries for $0.32 and $0.15 a piece respectively. We made 75 throwies for a total of $34. Sure beats paying $5 a piece for an official lantern lighting kit. Bright idea, huh?


Invitations

Let’s face it; the invitation is crucial. We wanted our invitations to reflect the theme of our wedding, which also meant that we didn’t plan to break the bank in order to get what we wanted. We tossed around different ideas, one of which involved brown grocery sacks, some glue and a lot of man hours. When we had just about decided to go through with our little DIY project, we opted to make a stop at Hobby Lobby for inspiration. We managed to find some blank cards that already had the brown, rustic look we were going for, and as luck would have it, they were half off. So, we bought 2 packs of 50 cards for the whopping price of $11. We then picked up our stamps (which was certainly the most expensive part of the project)... 100 stamps at $0.44 a piece. Once we had our supplies, we brainstormed a while on the actual design and layout of the cards, and once Phillip’s creative juices got going, we finalized our invites and printed those puppies on our very own printing press (Phillip’s HP Photosmart Plus printer). Have I mentioned it’s handy to marry a graphic designer?


Wedding Soundtrack

The CD’s were actually the first item we purchased for the wedding. We decided that we wanted to make a soundtrack of some of our favorite songs for guests to take home and enjoy; however, we didn’t want to simply burn CD’s, then grab a sharpie and write "Our Wedding Soundtrack" on the discs and call it a day. Instead, we found a good deal on some Lightscribe discs, and Phillip designed a snazzy personalized label for us to burn on each CD. Then, we printed up some simple covers, and voila... we have our wedding soundtrack! We bought 50 discs for $13, which means that each CD cost us about $0.26. If you want a sneak peek at the list of tracks we chose, check it out here.


Tent, Tables, & Chairs

We had somewhat braced ourselves for the financial impact of renting the tent, tables and chairs; we did some price hunting, and it seemed almost impossible to find a radical way to make it work. It just so happened that Phillip recently began working for JNJ in Tuscaloosa, and JNJ has a sister company called Special Events. As you might have guessed, Special Events rents items like tents, tables, & chairs for football games, parties and other celebrations... including weddings. Well, thanks to some serious generosity from the folks at JNJ and Special Events, we were able to rent a huge tent, 20 tables, and 80 chairs at an outrageously discounted price. As a matter of fact, the $400 we paid went directly to pay the cost of labor. Can I get a "ROLL TIDE"?!


Photographer

We both knew that hiring a photog for the wedding could get pricey. We certainly didn’t want to break the bank to have nice pictures, but at the same time, we didn’t want to just hire any old guy to come out with his polaroid and snap blurry pictures. After some serious consideration and debate, we realized that Daniel Phillips, a friend of Phillip’s from church, might just be perfect for the job. He’s a talented photographer, and we’d already planned to invite him to the wedding... so, why not have him take our pictures? He graciously agreed to help, and in support of the radical concept behind the event, he offered to shoot the evening (plus many extras) for less than 25% of the usual cost.


Wedding Dress

I must admit, finding THE dress and still being able to stomach the price tag seemed to be an almost impossible task when I first started my search. I tried on countless dresses, and I never got that "wow" feeling; I typically got the "whoa" feeling when the consultant would say "this dress is ONLY..." which was followed by a number a lot closer to $1,000 than to $0. However, I eventually found my way to a store called Beauty Mark, and I found THE dress. It was beautiful... a perfect mix of the things I’d liked about the other dresses I’d tried on: pretty neckline, dropped waist, and just the right amount of poof to the skirt. I fell in love with the dress, and as I was staring in the mirror, I heard the consultant say "Oh, and you can take $20 off of that price tag"- music to my ears! After my discount, the dress totaled $164; I was more than pleased. Frugality pays off!


Groom’s Attire

We both agreed that it wasn’t necessary for Phillip to pay to rent a tux (nor did he want his groomsmen having to pay to rent a tux). So, we started considering other, less formal options. I mean, this IS a radical wedding for goodness sake. Well, one Sunday afternoon we found ourselves in Belk, and Phillip picked up a snazzy-looking red button-up. The shirt was originally $50, but once we saw the super discounted price tag, we realized we couldn’t pass up such a great deal: $15. It just so happened that there was a rack of ties nearby. After trying different colors, we realized that silver looked best. The $36 tie rang up at $8.39, so we grabbed two more for the groomsmen, and skipped out the door after saving $117.94. We then matched up Phillip’s shirt and tie with some black dress pants already hanging in his closet. He added his black shoes and a belt, and badabing badaboom... groom’s attire complete. Hottie. From. Hottingham.


Food

We weren't sure how to provide delicious food for all of our guests without hiring a caterer and spending our life savings on an elaborate sit-down dinner. However, we knew that where there's a will, there's a way. So, we started to think through other possibilities. We called a few caterers, and after picking our jaws up off the floor, we realized that we could simply buy and prepare the food ourselves. We began making a list of items that we wanted at the reception, and once we had a list of delectable goodies, Phillip's mom Trish and his aunt Carolyn spent an afternoon in Sam's pricing items and finalizing our menu. We did the math to see what the damage was... and then, to our surprise, Carolyn generously offered to purchase the food for the wedding. What would we do without family?


Wedding Cake

The cake is another “must have” at the wedding. However, none of the bakeries in Birmingham or Tuscaloosa seemed to offer a cake that would work with our radical budget. So again, we had to think outside the box. We asked a few family members and friends if they'd be willing to make our cake, but no one seemed up to the challenge. We decided that maybe if we went the cupcake route as opposed to a huge wedding cake, we might could find someone willing to tackle the project. Thankfully, Phillip's Mom and aunt swooped in to save the day. Those sweet ladies tried various recipes until we got everything just the way we wanted it. And the sweetest part about the cupcakes is not their delicious icing; it's the price tag. Carolyn offered to take care of all of the cupcake-related expenses. What a SWEET gift!


Flowers

Now everyone knows that flowers can put a pretty big dent in the wedding budget. I honestly don't see how florists sleep at night knowing what they charge for their arrangements; it's crazy. All of that to say, we simply couldn't justify shelling out thousands of dollars on something that will be thrown away at the end of the night. So we decided that we'd limit our flowers, and go for the "less is more" motif. Trish then managed to find us a good deal on some red tulips and white hydrangeas at Winn Dixie. So, for $100 we have all the flowers we'll ever need. Pretty blooming awesome!


Entertainment

Phillip and I aren't big dancers, so we wanted to have some fun options for entertainment that didn't involve a dance floor and a cheesy DJ. We wanted to buck the system. So, we figured that a ping pong table would be great. It's fun to play; it's fun to watch. Then, we decided that cornhole would be a great game for people to play while they socialize. The next step was finding people willing to donate these items. Fortunately, Phillip had helped Gibber (one of his groomsmen) build a cornhole set a few months back, so we knew he and his wife could help us out. And of course, they graciously allowed us to borrow the game for some reception fun. Then, thanks to a Facebook status and a generous response from Leslie Batts (a friend of mine from high school), we found ourselves with a ping pong table for the night. Free entertainment is the BEST entertainment!


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Suggestions / Ideas / Donations

We would LOVE your help! If you have any ideas, thoughts, or insights on how we could minimize expenses, then we’re all ears. Fill out the form below and leave us some tips on how to save. Or, if you noticed something on the list that still has a "-" by it, and you'd be able and willing to provide it for the evening, we’d greatly appreciate it! We’ve been more than blessed thusfar with donations and an incredible outpouring of help from so many people.

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